Using Stories to Connect: Mary Valloni interviews Kay Helm

Using Stories to Connect: Mary Valloni interviews Kay Helm

The tables are turned as fundraising expert Mary Valloni interviews Kay about using stories to connect with donors.

We talked about:
Using stories to connect
Where we go wrong with storytelling
Stories for people in admin roles
Telling your own origin story
The key story we forget

And don’t miss the story I’ve been telling for our ministry for SIX years…

Missionary fundraising training with Mary Valloni
fullyfundedacademy.com

Level up your storytelling skills with Kay
missionwriters.org
kayhelm.com

Help Donors Catch Your Stories

Help Donors Catch Your Stories

Your donors are busy. They’re tired. They make decisions all day in a world where everyone is clamoring for attention. Here’s a simple way to help them “catch” your stories.

Have you ever opened an email from a nonprofit and the thing just kept going on, and on? Or it was formatted to look like their print newsletter, and turned into a maze of misshapen text on your phone? Did you fight through and read it? If you did (most won’t), could you recall anything it said?

The idea of sending a regular newsletter is not a bad one. Printed. Sent through the postal service. With a return envelope for donations. The problem comes when we try to send that same newsletter by email. First, the formatting is going to be a bear.

The real problem is when we try to put a bunch of stories into one email, readers can’t “catch” them.

They open the email (maybe), see how long (or crowded) it is, and move along to the next thing in their inbox.

Even if they love you.

Try this instead:

Write your beautiful print newsletter. Include all the key stories a newsletter needs. Then, spread those stories out over several emails.

One story. One email.

If your newsletter has a constituent story, a donor story, and a volunteer story, that gives you three emails to send with content from your newsletter.

Think of storytelling like a game of catch, and each story is a ball. I toss you a story; you catch it and read. If I toss you several balls at once, how many will you catch? Even if you’re super-motivated and nimble, it’s likely you’ll miss most of those balls.

However, when I toss you just one ball at a time, you can easily catch it and respond.

Your donors are busy. They’re tired. They make decisions all day in a world where everyone is clamoring for attention. Balls coming at them. all. day. long. You can be the bright spot in their day by tossing them just one ball at a time.

When you try to cram several stories into one email message, other stories dilute your primary story and your call to action.

Treat your emails like a game of catch. Send one story at a time.

Try it and let me know how this works for you!

Adjust Your Messaging to Fit Your Donor’s Journey

Adjust Your Messaging to Fit Your Donor’s Journey

Our stories have the power to move supporters along on a journey: introducing them to a problem, dispelling myths, offering hope, introducing them to our organization, showing them how we solve the problem, building trust, and inviting them to take action. 

At any point in time, you’ll have people at different stages along these five levels of awareness (from copywriter Eugene Schwartz):

  1. Unaware – They don’t even know there is a problem.
  2. Problem Aware – They know about the problem, but not about solutions.
  3. Solution Aware – They know about solutions, but not so much about your organization, the work you do, or what makes you special.
  4. Brand Aware – They know about you! But they aren’t convinced you are the right fit for them.
  5. Most Aware – They get it! They know about the problem, what you do to solve the problem, they know, like, and trust you, and they’re ready to join you (just waiting for you to ask). 

It’s important to think about the donor’s journey, and where they are in it, when crafting our stories. We must also consider our organization’s goals (increase monthly donations, bust a myth around the problem we solve, attract volunteers, etc.) and position ourselves and the story accordingly. 

Address potential donors according to the stage of awareness they’re in. Do this, and donors will be more informed, engaged, and ready to respond when it’s time to ask for their support.

Joyful Copy: Interview with Joy Capps

Joyful Copy: Interview with Joy Capps

Joy Capps is the author of Joyful Copy—How to Show Up in the Marketplace Ethically and Authentically. We chatted about the book and how as Christians we can look to God for the ultimate in best practices.

Joy Capps helps entrepreneurs and business owners create ethical copy & use values-based business coaching to connect with customers authentically. We chatted about her new book, Joyful Copy–How to Show Up in the Marketplace Ethically and Authentically.

There are a lot of copywriting formulas and blueprints, and many ways to reach your audience. But not all ways line up with what we know to be ethical and true. Joy created her Joyful Copy framework to help us write marketing copy that isn’t slimy. Based on Galatians 5:22-23 and Philippians 4:8, her framework filters best practices of copywriting through the teachings of the Bible.

We talked about:

  • The Joyful Copy Framework
  • Is there even such a thing as ethical copywriting?
  • How blindly following the gurus can lead us down a slippery slope
  • Asking God lead our work vs asking Him to bless our work
  • What she hopes happens as a result of this book
  • A life lesson from her father
  • Book release

Links

Connect with Joy at joycapps.com
Instagram – @joycappswrites
Facebook
LinkedIn

Get the book – Joyful Copy–How to Show Up in the Marketplace Ethically and Authentically on Amazon, or at joyfulcopy.com


What Airbnb can teach nonprofits about storytelling

What Airbnb can teach nonprofits about storytelling

Every story gives us a chance to choose. Do we set up a “them and us” narrative, or will we do the work to offer another perspective?

Have you seen the whimsical ad Airbnb runs to encourage people to become hosts?

I can see why people might be hesitant to allow strangers into their space. We are conditioned to look at people who are not like us as either scary or exotic. Since childhood, most of us have been warned of “stranger danger”.

The ad features a family of shaggy “monsters” enjoying their vacation. It starts where many of us are when it comes to inviting strangers to stay in our homes–it’s a little scary. But then we see a delightful series of scenes: enjoying a beautiful view with a cuppa tea, a family hike, collecting shells, taking selfies, cooking, playing games…

These are simple things we enjoy with our own families.

The shaggy monsters clean up after themselves, straighten a picture on the wall, and leave a thank you note. As they close the door, we finally see them as they really are–a human family, just like us.

Kevin Morby’s song, Beautiful Strangers, provides a relaxed musical backdrop. Not a word is spoken. It’s a beautifully orchestrated story with an important message:

Strangers aren’t that strange. We have more in common than not.

The stories we tell can build bridges

Unfortunately, in our attempts to elicit emotion (or donations), we often emphasize our differences rather than our shared humanity. When we do this, we miss opportunities to present a realistic and nuanced view of the problems we solve. At worst, we reinforce stereotypes and even exploit the people we are called to serve.

Every story gives us a chance to choose. Do we set up a “them and us” narrative, or will we do the work to offer another perspective?


Help Donors Read Your Fundraising Materials

Help Donors Read Your Fundraising Materials

Make your fundraising materials more inviting and easier to read, so more people can join you in your life-changing mission. 

Your work is important! But that doesn’t mean people will read your emails, blog posts and newsletters. Sorry. It’s the truth.

Why don’t people read all that wonderful content your organization puts out? 

  • We’re tired
  • We don’t think there’s something of value for us
  • It’s boring (think story instead of reports)
  • It’s too long or too difficult

In this episode, I tackle the “too difficult” problem, with simple tips to make your content easy for donors to read.

According to the Literacy Project, about half of Americans read at an 8th-grade level or lower. If your writing is above an 8th grade reading level (some would say grade 6-7 max), you are not communicating with your audience as well as you could.

Even people who read at a higher level will appreciate a story that’s easy to read. Great writers embrace simplicity. Novels are generally written at a grade 5-7 level, while non-fiction titles come in at grade 8-9.

Your donors are giving you their time and attention. Don’t make them spend that time wading through complex prose. Your writing can be beautiful and easy to read.

Reading level is affected by:

  • length of sentences
  • word choice
  • grammar
  • content structure
  • active voice vs passive voice
  • wordiness
  • use of adverbs

Tools to help simplify your writing

Word will give you a reading level score and Flesch Reading Ease score. Find out how to locate these tools on the Microsoft support site. I like to use the Hemingway App. Hemingway highlights hard-to-read sentences and words that make your writing more difficult to read. This highlighting action lets you go straight to the problem areas, and shows you in real time how your changes affect readability.

After Hemingway, I like to read what I’ve written out loud. You can also get Word to read to you. When you’re listening, you can hear mistakes. You can hear when the writing gets monotonous or repetitive. Once you have that done, go through once more for spelling and punctuation. Now you’re on your way to communicating clearly with your audience!